Last week, when he released his latest single Longe, Bryann was formally introduced to the world. The single caused a splash capturing the youthful energy that underpins his music while also holding some of the street flavor that stems from his socialization in FESTAC. Naturally, we reached out to tell the story of an artist we expect the world to hear a lot more from in the coming months.
How did you get into music? What are some of the biggest influences on your music?
I was in high school listening to Marvin Gaye and Musiq Soul Child; music no one around was listening to and that was all my dad. Then my mom. My mom is one of my role models. She’s the most hardworking person I know. She makes things come out of nothing and that’s what I’m trying to do with my music. I’m trying to grow my brand from scratch. And then Festac. When I used to live in Festac, I had access to different classes of people and being around all these people all the time, influenced the kind of music I listened to. That also influences the kind of music I make.
What about in terms of artistic influence?
Wande Coal. I’m a big, big, big Wande Coal fan. Wande Coal and Burna Boy. When I wanted to start making Afrocentric music, that is music with Afropop, I was listening to Wande Coal and Burna Boy. They were the foundation of how I started building my style, my approach to Afrocentric music. Wande, Wizkid, Tekno, Angelique Kidjo (she’s one of my idols). Brenda Fassie, I grew up on Brenda Fassie. Outside Africa, Drake, Kanye West and Beyonce.
Tell us about your new single. Is there a story behind it?
I made Longé the first day I met Spax. I’d been asking my people to link me up with Spax. I wanted to work with him for a very long time. At the time we met, I was still trying to figure out my place in the Afropop space. He played a bunch of beats and this was one of the ones where immediately I started singing, I just knew I’m going to do this. E sure for me. When I was making the song, I felt like I had no control over what I was singing. I don’t know if what I’m saying makes sense. You know when you’re so deep into the zone that everything feels limitless, that any can be done. When you’re so deep into your creative state that everything just feels possible. That’s how I felt at that point in time.
I read in your fact sheet that you came up with the term ‘Longé’. How?
‘Longé’ means ‘dance’. I came up with the term. I don’t think there’s any language where Longé means dance. It came so naturally. I didn’t have to think about what I was saying; I was just tapping into the vibe. That’s what I was trying to get other people to do. If you listen to the song, in the first verse, I’m focusing on just one person, I’m focusing on a girl. I’m trying to get her to dance. Then moving on to the second chorus, I’m talking to all the people. I’m trying to get everyone to dance. It’s like a call to come and vibe. Like, leave what you’re doing and just vibe.
So it was something of a freestyle?
Something like that but more like a vibe.
What challenges have you faced on your journey so far?
I’m coming out at a time when there’s COVID, so making the music—trying to shoot videos, trying to link up with people creatively—COVID limited that. So it’s about my safety and the safety of those I want to link up with. COVID has been a very big barrier. I’m the kind of person who likes to sing in front of a crowd, not just record. I love performing. With COVID, there are no shows. My team and I are using social media to find creative ways of still connecting with the fanbase.
How has the internet helped in shaping your career?
The internet is a very useful tool because there’s no regulation in social media when it comes to content creators. You can put out anything and if you put it out and some people tap into it, others will catch on. It’s a free market for everybody. If you’re creative, this is the best time to put out stuff on the internet because everybody is attentive. I feel like last year was one of the best years to be making music in Nigeria because the music that came out was just so versatile. Everyone is ready to listen right now. People are not following one thing, anything works and the internet gives people space to do that. If you put it out and people like it, they’re going to gravitate towards it. That’s what I’ve been doing with my Twitter and Instagram.
What realizations have you had? Have there been moments that called for a redefinition of your ideal (sound)?
I have a body of work that Longé is off of. While I was recording, during the creative process of that, it opened my mind in so many ways. I feel like what I can do is limitless. I don’t feel tied down to anything. Moving forward, people are going to see more of that but that’s something I realized. My approach to music has changed. I’m more open to new things and experimentation.
Where have these experimentations taken you so far? Have they been interesting? Have there been difficult days?
Yes, definitely. I think the cycle of every creative is feeling like you’re depressed and you’re beginning to doubt yourself, and then you go back to doing it all again. I think that’s how it is with creatives. Anytime you’re doing something that no one has done before, there’s always that feeling that no one is actually doing this right now, will people move to it, will they gravitate towards it? At the end of the day, I feel like if you feel it then others will.
How would you describe your music style?
For example, I’ve been listening to only Shina Peters and Fela and DiAngelo throughout the year. Just Afrojuju and Dancehall from Vybes Kartel. So I can’t call my music one thing, I can’t give credit to one thing. I have an R&B core, I’m inspired by highlife, I’m also inspired by Dancehall music, I’m also inspired by Afrobeats. So I call the type of music I do ‘concoction music’ because it’s a mixture of so many things.
Like concoction rice?
Do you have anything else to say about your sound?
When it comes to the creative process, I like to show. So I’m looking forward to putting out my body of work so that people will know what I’ve been doing in the studio and how my creative process has been going down. I feel like things like that are better visualized than spoken.
Describe your ideal audience. Who do you typically make music for?
First things first, I’m young. So [I make music for] people my age, in general, and I feel like my music is more centred around women because that’s what I’m always singing about. The more you start to listen to the songs I’m putting out, the more you’ll see this because I’m a very sensual person. The music is also universal in the sense that anybody can listen to it to just catch a vibe.
What do you mean when you say your music is for women? Do you mean in the sense of you being, perhaps, a lover to a woman, or singing about women’s experiences?
It could be both. Sometimes I sing not based on my experiences but on the experiences of others. Sometimes I sing about what happened to me, sometimes I have to tap into what another person has experienced. On my social media, I made a song about consent. It was at a time when rape allegations were everywhere and it sort of got to me, subconsciously. I felt like in the Nigerian pop scene, I don’t see a lot of people doing that, talk about consent. That’s why I made the song, which got a lot of interaction at the time. So I can’t necessarily say that I sing about my experiences with women. It could be on the other side.
What artiste(s) would you love to collaborate with and why?
I would love, love, love to collaborate with Wande Coal because that’s one of the first Nigerian artistes I started listening to. I still listen to Mushin to MoHits to this day. Asa. Asa’s first album Asa is timeless. I still listen to it and I’d be honoured if she even acknowledged what I do and decide that we should do a song together. Angelique Kidjo. I’d love to see myself on a song with Drake. I would also love to work with my colleagues, my age mates that are currently making music like Buju, Oxlade, Zinolesky. There are a lot of wonderful people my age making music right now. So I would love to connect with them on that level.
What’s the wildest thing, life-changing or hilarious, that’s happened to you since you began your music career?
I’ve gotten some very random DMs from some women. I also forgot my lyrics on stage. I don’t know what happened, I just blanked out. It was my first or second time performing for a crowd of that magnitude. It was a carnival.
If you could open a show for someone, right now, who would it be?
Wande Coal. Then Wizkid. Superstar was a very important album to me because, at that time, we weren’t seeing many young people doing music and being that big. Now I’m at the same age range he was at when he did that. It would be an honour.
You seem to love dressing up. Does fashion influence your music in any way?
It’s how I choose to express myself with the things I wear; rings, jewellery…. Fashion is definitely something I’d like to branch out to do while I’m making music. Don’t be surprised if you see me modelling for some brand!
What paths do you see yourself taking over the next couple of years? What can we expect from you?
After this single, I’m dropping a body of work and I’ll like to do an album, then maybe another. Then expect a tour and more experimentations, of course. Because the older and more mature I get, the more I begin to learn more things about myself. Expect more growth in the way I approach my music. More shows—I can’t wait for COVID to be over! I’ll love, love, love to go on a tour, a campus tour maybe, a national tour. I just can’t wait for COVID to be done because outside of the fact that I make music with a pop feel, it’s still in musicality, so it’s something that a live band can perform. The kind of music I make will translate for a live band.
So would you like to put these together, like a live album?
I won’t lie, I’ve thought about that. We’ll see moving forwards.
Photo Credit: Black Print